- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Bantam Press (18 August 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 059306514X
- ISBN-13: 978-0593065143
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.8 x 24.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 640 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
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Defender of Rome Hardcover – 18 Aug 2011
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Hailed a 'Hero of Rome', Valerius is not the man he once was - scarred both physically and emotionally by the battles he has fought. His sister is mortally ill. His father is in self-imposed exile. And neither is Rome the same city as the one he left.
The Emperor Nero grows increasingly paranoid. Those who seek power for themselves whisper darkly in the emperor's ears. They speak of a new threat, one found within the walls of Rome itself. A new religious sect, the followers of Christus, denies Nero's divinity and is rumoured to be spreading sedition.
Nero calls on his 'Hero of Rome' to become a 'Defender of Rome', to seek out this rebel sect, to capture its leader, a man known as Petrus. To fail would be to forfeit his life, and the lives of twenty thousand Judaeans living in Rome. But as Valerius begins his search, a quest that will take him to the edge of the Empire, he will discover that success may cost him nearly as much as failure.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
In this book, Valerius is in Rome and summoned by Nero and told that he has a task - which will impact his future (life or death). His task is to find the leader of a "rebellious sect" known as Christians. Their leader is called "Petrus" or to many of us, St. Peter.
The remainder of the book is spent on Valerius' attempts to find St. Peter, his run ins with the Pratorian Guard and their evil and corrupt and dangerous leaders and his travels to Seneca's villa, the Danube and finally to the villa of Neros wife's family outside of Naples. It is at this final location that the climatic struggle occurs between Valerius and his men and the leaders of the Pratorian Guard and 20 of their men.
Nero is depicted properly as the personification of evil. He is sickly gross, maniacal, sadistic, etc. There is no reprehensible action that is beyond his capability. At one point, he makes sexual overtures to Valerius while in drag. At another point, he revels in the Christians being eaten by lions. And then, he sickly enjoys the burning of Christians who are tied to stakes and covered with pitch. Around him, as expected are further reprehensible individuals including his leader of Pratorian Guard plus his second in command.
On the other side, St. Peter is depicted as a strong but saintly individual who is very hard to find. However, at the end, he agrees to come back with Valerius and be turned in because Nero has threatened to kill 20,000 Jews in Rome if St. Peter doesn't give himself up.
There are some criticisms of this book that I have and the reason that I can't given it the highest marks. First, the book depicts St. Paul as a conniving individual who is in cahouts with Seneca - highly unbelievable, at least for me. Second, the traditional story was that Nero only pursued persecuting the Christians after the burning of Rome. This story all occurs prior to that. Third, the book depicts that there were many top Romans who became Christians at this time, including Nero's wife - this last item was hard for me to believe but it makes for a good ending of the story.
However, in spite of these criticisms, I do recommend this book for anyone interested in Roman history written in a lively, action oriented manner. If you are interested in this historical context, the book draws you in and keeps you interested.
For all that this is a readable novel that certainly has something to offer. After my disappointment in the "readability quotient" of this novel I almost balked at buying and reading the third novel in this trilogy. I am glad that I did not, because the third novel features much better writing and is excellent. RJB.